Obama adds sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories
Dec 01, 2009
With the stroke of a pen, President Obama expanded federal hate-crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories, a goal for which gay-rights activists have been working for more than a decade.
After rumors circulated that President Obama’s health-care reform would institute “death panels” for the elderly, Congress quickly abandoned any effort to address end-of-life issues in health-care legislation.
Was former president Jimmy Carter identifying the elephant in the room or seeing a phantom when he charged that much of the opposition to President Obama’s health-care reform is motivated by racism? Whatever the wisdom of Carter’s comments, Obama himself has refused to be drawn into the debate.
Sociologist Robert Bellah calls individualism “the default mode” of American culture. It provides the rhetoric and political convictions to which people instinctively turn—whether or not it makes sense in the situation.
Ten Maryland nuns—almost an entire religious community—converted from the Episcopal Church to Catholicism on September 3, saying that their former denomination had become too liberal in its acceptance of homosexuality.
Facing incendiary charges that health-care reform would result in government financing of abortion and euthanasia, President Obama has made an unusual appeal to religious groups to help sell the plan and debunk critics’ “false witness.”
Retired Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Joseph Lowery, a longtime U.S. civil rights activist, were among recipients August 12 of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. “Each has been an agent of change,” President Obama said of the 16 people who received the nation’s highest civilian honor.
When President Obama named his choices for his administration’s two top medical posts, he chose people of public acclaim whose faith positions may put them out of step with conservative believers—but in tune with White House pragmatism.